Posts Tagged ‘palo alto baylands’

Mother’s day at the baylands

May 11, 2014

Sunday, 11 May 2014

I didn’t want to moomph around the house all weekend (see yesterday’s blog …), so I went to the Palo Alto baylands. I thought I might see some hatchlings.


I conclude that I’m maybe a week too early for the wading birds.


We can see something blue under this avocet. It may just be folded-up leg, rather than an egg.

The swallows were nested in mud under the eaves of the nearby nature center, but in brooding mode, not yet feeding the young.


But I came upon some Canada geese that had hatched only a few minutes ago. Still wet from the egg, still with floppy feet.




And further along the shore, families of Canada geese in convoy.


We’ll be back next weekend!

A walk in the baylands

January 1, 2014

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year’s Day, sunny and cool. I continue to have knee trouble, so I walked the baylands instead of the hills, around 11 miles. The first sight of interest was the pair of raptors at the Palo Alto duck pond, studiously ignoring the crow who would have liked for them to move along. (Doris thinks they are black-shouldered kites. Thanks, Doris!)



Some distance further along, a black-crested night heron holds court amongst the ducks, while a great blue heron keeps an eye open for careless fish.



And the humans are out there, too. From a distance, it looks like a canoe, but we assume that it’s really some kind of platform, stable enough to stand on while he paddles.

After a secondary adventure, I came back through the town.

Palo Alto falls

November 17, 2013

Saturday 16 November 2013

I have had a sore knee for a while, and I’m taking it a bit easy. Cycling seems to be okay, but downhill walking hurts. I spent much of the morning rearranging tree trimmings so the gardener can haul them away next week, then went out wandering Palo Alto.


Fall in California is drab, as are most other seasons… except for the imported vegetation such as liquidambar. Beautiful. Let’s hear it for the non-natives!


There is a demonstration garden nearby, the demonstration being how to garden without using much water. Succulents, as expected, but even at this season, some really pretty flowers.





Not far away, the Gamble house gardens.


We had received the subsidy tickets to buy 3 LED bulbs at reduced prices (thank you, government, for taking our money in taxes and then subsidizing us with a small fraction of it to do what the philosopher kings think we ought to be doing). Bulbs were on sale at the late afternoon Christmas tree lighting event. Loud music, so we didn’t stay long. Looped around to buy some hummus for dinner and home.

Sunday, 17 November

Happy birthday, Allison!

I thought that, if the knee wasn’t sore, I might go on a real hike today. It was only a little sore. I’m tempted to just go anyway, but I have many years of experience that pushing through sore connective tissue is not a good idea. So I went walking at the Baylands instead. 10 miles, but all of it flat.

The tide was out. The mudflats were… well, mud. Some of the mud was even dry. Went to the Palo Alto duck pond.


I believe these ducks are called shovelnoses? They swim along with their beaks right at water level, scooping up whatever may be afloat. Migration season, many kinds of waterfowl we only see in winter.

Shotgun sounds from not far away, outside the boundaries of the parklands. I believe waterfowl hunting season runs until January, when the survivors are granted a reprieve to raise their families.


On a dead tree above the pond, I spotted this guy, having breakfast. I couldn’t tell what it had caught, but I’m sure it was delicious. When I came back half an hour later, it was at the top of the tree, relaxing in the sunlight, thinking about lunch.



Almost surrealistic, these birds with their heads tucked underneath their arms (oop! — wrong phrase: wings).


At the Mountain View pond, a dozen guys getting ready to go play water basketball. I suppose the helmets and face guards are a good idea; in the heat of competition, a paddle in the face is a real possibility.


Cormorants drying their armpits, and graciously allowing a gull to visit their exclusive club.



Landing in the midst of his buddies.

It is alleged that I never take pictures of people. Today, I took several pictures of people. So there.




And almost back at the parking lot, an egret silhouetted against the foam as the rising tide poured through the strait.



I worked around to the other side. Same egret, different lighting.

Home wildlife

January 24, 2010

27 April 2009

As I got home this afternoon, I noticed a cluster of little yellow dots on the garage doorframe. I grabbed the camera, but as I set it in place, the cluster disintegrated in all directions. I still got a shot, however. Nice.

Well, with camera in hand, what else might we find? A cranefly, that’s what,  clearly showing its intertial navigation system. I continue to think that’s really great!

Well, and then there was yesterday at the baylands (my feet are a little sore, but not enough to be a problem). I’m discovering more of interest in the mudflats.

Above, we see muddy foam at the very edge of the water. Interesting that the foam is also full of chunky stuff. Blue from the sky is to be expected, but I was surprised to see blue even in the shadow over at the right side. Below, we have a barnacle-encrysted pier, with evidence of some interesting things living there under the crust. Maybe I’ll take along a tool next time and see what I can uncover.

As to birds, well, you’d expect chicks, and this will one day grow up to be an avocet, believe it or not.

And I just can’t believe how artificial the cormorant’s eye looks.